Purple Rumor Mill: A WR in McShay’s Mock Draft, Irv Smith’s Return, Duke Shelley

Purple Rumor Mill: A WR in McShay’s Mock Draft, Irv Smith’s Return, Duke Shelley

VikingsTerritory’s Purple Rumor Mill is a two-day chronicle each week. All the week’s rumors are lassoed and plopped in two spots — articles on Saturday and Sunday — for review. Today is the December 18th edition.

Remember — rumors are rumors. What you read on weekends in these pieces is what the world is talking about pertaining to the Vikings, not necessarily items that will come to fruition.

Purple Rumor Mill: A WR in McShay’s Mock Draft, Irv Smith’s Return, Duke Shelley

Rumor: Zay Flowers was Todd McShay’s first mock draft pick for the Vikings and could realistically be a target in April.

Purple Rumor Mill: A WR in McShay's Mock Draft
Nov 26, 2022; Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts, USA; Boston College Eagles wide receiver Zay Flowers. Mandatory Credit: Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports.

Flowers was indeed the pick for the Vikings, according to Todd McShay’s first official mock draft.

McShay wrote, “With Adam Thielen turning 33 this offseason, they should be looking for another complement to Justin Jefferson at receiver. Flowers has terrific instincts and elusiveness, forcing missed tackles and scoring 12 touchdowns this season.”

And he’s absolutely correct. Although Thielen’s contract is expensive, his role in 2023 is probably best served as a WR3. It’s just that time in his career — for better or worse.

Get ready for mock draft season to heat up because it’s right around the corner. Vikings fans will have a healthy draft-need debate about WRs, CBs, LBs, IDLs, and perhaps even QB.

Rumor: Irv Smith is not out for the season and should be back soon.

Sep 22, 2019; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Vikings tight end Irv Smith (84) looks on against the Oakland Raiders at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports


Smith was back at practice this week and should return near the end of the regular season or postseason. The man is on his way back, pairing with T.J. Hockenson to create a pretty formidable duo.

The weird part? This is likely the final hurrah for Smith with the Vikings. General manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah traded draft capital for Hockenson — who is a better tight end — and the man is the Vikings TE of the future.

Smith is fun and athletic, but Hockenson is the future. Enjoy Smith’s final few games with the Vikings.

Rumor: Duke Shelley is awesome and should be a full-time starter in the NFL.

Dawson Knox and Duke Shelley. © JAMIE GERMANO / USA TODAY NETWORK.

Shelley has performed wonderfully at times, especially in the redzone for the Vikings. Versus the Indianapolis Colts on Saturday, too, Shelley played quite well.

He owns a 71.0 Pro Football Focus grade through Week 15, the second-best among Vikings CBs. Shelley is behind Patrick Peterson, of course, but ahead of Cameron Dantzler, Akayleb Evans, and Andrew Booth.

The big question on Shelley — and for any reservist player who shines — is sustainability. Will Shelley’s success span multiple games, or is he a flash in the pan? Because the Vikings have encountered injuries to Evans and Booth, it’s probably fair to give Shelley an extended look.

It’s a longshot for Shelley to become an unpolished gem starting CB, but stranger things have happened.

Dustin Baker is a political scientist who graduated from the University of Minnesota in 2007. Subscribe to his daily YouTube Channel, VikesNow. He hosts a podcast with Bryant McKinnie, which airs every Wednesday with Raun Sawh and Sally from Minneapolis. His Viking fandom dates back to 1996. Listed guilty pleasures: Peanut Butter Ice Cream, ‘The Sopranos,’ and The Doors (the band).